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REPORT: Americans struggling with ‘re-entry anxiety’ as summer approaches

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After a year of isolation and strict regulations to stop the spread of COVID-19, the world is beginning to open back up again with eased mask requirements, social gatherings, and a feeling that summer 2021 may look more “normal” than last year.

However, according to a report from the American Psychological Association (APA), almost 50% of Americans say they feel anxious about resuming in-person interactions post-pandemic -- a new concerning trend that health experts are calling “re-entry anxiety.”

For some, this summer may come as a severe shock to the system, something Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, a UW Health distinguished psychologist, says isn’t surprising.

“We have lost a lot of our social skills,” he said. “We are out of practice with that in-person interaction so it’s going to feel awkward, it’s going to feel weird... We are going to have some discomfort and unease, but we are not alone.”

Mirgain recommends that people begin to bring themselves back into social situations, but at their own pace and with people that respect various comfort levels.

“Most people are going to be experiencing this -- so give yourself some grace, give others the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “We are going to need to practice.”

The APA recommends those who are having trouble dealing with their anxiety seek the help of a licensed psychologist who can “help you identify the challenges and stressors that affect your daily life and find ways to help you best cope for improving your overall physical and mental well-being.”

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